The Jefferson Tibetan Society of Charlottesville, VA was pleased to sponsor, organize and host a Public Lecture by Dr. Alan Wallace on December 8, 2006.
Dependent Origination in Buddhism and Science
The pluralistic and naturalistic perspective of Buddhism offers an alternative to the false absolutes that appear in the idols of religion and science. The Buddhist principle of dependent origination, specifically as it is expressed in the "Middle Way" view, advocates a kind of universal relativity. This includes the relativity of the mode of perception and perceived objects, and the relativity of the mode of conception and conceived objects. These themes find parallels in the writings of some of the greatest physicists of the 20th century. Werner Heisenberg, for example, wrote "What we observe is not nature in itself but nature exposed to our method of questioning." And Albert Einstein declared, "On Principle, it is quite wrong to try founding a theory on observable magnitudes alone. In reality the very opposite happens. It is the theory which decides what we can observe." In this lecture Dr. Alan Wallace will discuss Western and Buddhist approaches to relativity that avoid the philosophical extremes of substantialism and nihilism.
The Jefferson Tibetan Society's primary function is to provide teaching and meditation practice in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, as exemplified by His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teachings. See http://avenue.org/jts/ for more information.
February 10, 2007 Subject:
Well-presented, core information
Alan Wallace explores how various Buddhist schools, along with western science, approach the question of what exists. He examines the Christian origin of scientific realism and contrasts this with different kinds of Buddhist realism before unpacking the concept of dependent origination and its relationship to modern physics.
What’s offered here is well-presented core information for anyone interested in the philosophy of science and especially in the developing science/Buddhism nexus. Be prepared for a long session of paying close attention. If you try to do something else while listening to this lecture, you’ll miss some subtle point or vital distinction. The rewards are well worth the effort.